Wright’s “my point guard, so I’m going to live and die with him,” Ball said in an interview this week. “That’s what I’ve always told him. There was no doubt in my mind he was going to hit that shot.”
Once a freshman who lobbied to stay off the varsity squad, Wright has earned Ball’s trust over a decorated four-year career at the Waldorf school, notably outdueling phenom Aquille Carr with a 12-assist performance as a sophomore in the 2011 state title victory over Patterson.
After pacing fourth-ranked North Point (24-1) to a third straight Maryland 4A East title, Wright returns to College Park for Thursday’s state semifinal rematch with Eleanor Roosevelt (25-1) at 9 p.m. Defending champion Magruder (23-2) faces Baltimore Polytechnic (21-4) in the first semifinal at 7 p.m.
“I’m still not over [last year’s loss] until we win it again,” said Wright, who will play next year at Loyola (Md.) as North Point’s first Division I recruit. “I felt like the team was on my back last year, and I feel like they’re on my back again, so I’ve got to lead them to a state title.”
Wright has accumulated 1,068 points, 560 assists, 325 rebounds and 290 steals in his varsity career, but those raw statistics only begin to explain his impact at a school that just began varsity play in 2007.
Over an entire season, Wright has never led the team in scoring, yet he has long been the centerpiece for Ball’s free-flowing attack predicated on using defense to push the pace. This year, his career-high 16.6 points per game still rank behind senior forward Matt Bonds (19.3) on a team that averages an area-best 94 points per game.
Wright’s history at the state tournament sticks out in a year in which plenty of experienced players will take the court at Comcast Center. All three local schools at the state’s largest classification — North Point, Eleanor Roosevelt and Magruder — have won at least three straight region titles, and all three feature talented senior point guards.
“He’s one of the smartest guards around,” Thomas Stone Coach Dale Lamberth said of Wright. “He understands what he has to do for that team to be successful.”
Wright’s attitude has changed dramatically through the years, a progression that began when Ball had to convince the then-5-foot-7 freshman with an old-school, pass-first game to make the jump to the varsity squad.
Wright initially wanted no part of the move. He had logged enough court time with North Point’s upperclassmen during summer league games and fall open gyms to realize if he passed the ball, it wasn’t coming back.